There were a host of activities for the public, families and glass enthusiasts alike during the four day Public Festival in 2012. Once again established makers and suppliers of glass products brought their wares to Stourbridge for the four days, in the Glass Emporium. 2012 also saw the return of the hugely popular Stourbridge Bead Fair – with dozens of beadmakers and glass artists showing beautiful and imaginative work as well as suppliers of lampworking books, kits, tools, glass findings etc. Further highlights are detailed below or for a full timetable click here. Alternatively click below for a daily timetable:

Friday 24th August

Saturday 25th August

Sunday 26th August

Monday 27th August

Fun Auction

Will Farmer, Director of Fieldings Auctioneers, and a regular on BBC’s Antiques Roadshow, once again took charge of this event, raising vital Festival funds and bringing lashings of humour and excitement as the four day public Glass Festival came to a close. At each Festival, the Fun Auction draws in the crowds and 2012 was no different, with many visitors bagging themselves a real bargain!  

Workshops & Taster Sessions

There were a selection of workshops and taster sessions throughout the Public Festival including Extreme Fusing taster with Tanya Veit, Confident Collecting at the British Glass Biennale, Beginners - Fused Glass Workshop, Have a Go at Glassblowing, Have a Go at Beadmaking, Introduction to Glassblowing, Boundary Field # 2 Stone Carving, Family drop in Craft activities, and Have a go Sandblasting.

Evening Events

In 2012 it was possible for our visitors to extend their fun into the evening, with a selection of evening events including the Glass Heap Challenge Exhibition Opening and Awards, where the winning team was announced as voted by the visitors. One evening saw the second performance of Torcher Chamber Arkestra at the Festival with their event Torcher Tailor. Torcher Chamber Arkestra is a flameworking performance company comprising of artists from sculptural, neon, scientific, and bead flameworked glass backgrounds. Torcher Tailor combined fire, glass, music, and explosives in the making of a glass wedding dress exploring the theme of Union live on a flameworking bride. The audience were asked to put the finishing touches on to the dress in the form of roses and thistles. The dress was then worn in the International Festival of Glass Finale, Glasshionistas, the final evening's fashion show - which offered our visitors the chance to make and model their own glass inspired creations. 

Heritage Programme

Heritage walks took place throughout the Stourbridge Glass Quarter, allowing visitors to time travel with local experts. The heritage programme included walks taking in the various local churches and churchyards, which include monuments of notable glassmakers, including Holy Trinity Church Wordsley, built in 1831; Holy Trinity Church Amblecote, which possesses the area’s oldest major stained glass from the 1850’s; and St Marys Old Swinford which predates all other local churches, and indeed Stourbridge itself, by several centuries. Walks were also available taking in Dial Glassworks (Plowden & Thompson Tour), the last remaining working cone in the Stourbridge area; Wollaston Village, well known for a ‘colony’ of Bohemian émigrés who were recruited by several firms to apply their superlative skills to the English glass trade; and the Sourbridge Canal Arm - constructed in the 1770’s to link the town of Stourbridge itself with the main canal to the east. 

A historic moment took place during the 2012 heritage programme – our friends at the British Museum and the Corning Museum of Glass made a unique link up that brought together the original Portland Vase along with 4 replicas for the first and possibly only time.  Using the Dome technology to bring the real and the virtual together to help Stourbridge celebrate 400 years of glassmaking.


There was an exciting and diverse range of artist demonstrations featuring many different techniques and artists, which took place over the Public Festival and across the Stourbridge Glass Quarter. Highlights included: Glassblowing with Richard Marquis (USA); Glassblowing with Fritz Dreisbach (USA); Flameworking with Bandhu Scott Dunham (USA); Lampworking and Marble making with Diana East and Sean Taylor (UK); Engraving with Alison Kinnaird (UK); Venetian Techniques with Ian Hankey (UK) and Hot casting with John Lewis (USA). 

In addition there was Al fresco Glassblowing, which was an opportunity to talent spot the glassblowers of the future with teams of glass students from around the country putting on a continuous display of glassblowing on mini-furnaces located under canvas in the carpark of the Ruskin Glass Centre; the 24 hour 'World's Longest Glassblowing Demonstration'; open days and talks at the Dial Glassworks and Plowden & Thompson; and open studios at Ruskin Glass Centre and Redhouse Glass Cone.

Demonstrations were also given by Julie Coakley who is a totally blind artist specialising in glass. Julie has developed a unique way of creating 3D glass sculptural drawings containing over 1000 individual elements of glass. The glass is preworked by hand before fusing and casting. Julie uses memory and imagination, as well as electronic gadgets such as colour readers, to assist in her work.  Julie demonstrated her preworking techniques at regular intervals on Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 August at the Ruskin Glass Centre.  

Family Activities

Families and children are very welcome and there is always plenty for children to do at the Festival. In 2012 there was everything from treasure hunts to designing your own cut glass, craft workshops, storytelling sessions, street entertainment and lots of fascinating glassmaking demonstrations to watch.

Broadfield House Glass Museum also hosted its “Best of British” Family Day on Saturday 25 August and the Red House Cone’s put on a Family Fun Day on the Monday 27 August. 


Photos courtesy of S Bruntnell, P Dutton, C Day, K Brocklehurst, J Christley, M Holm, M Durran, P Wood, J Plant, J Smith, Glass Genie, KT Yun, D McNeill, J Coakley,  J Elliott, S Snaddon, I Dury.
J Low, J Newman, V Bamforth, N Baker.
© Copyright - International Festival Of Glass 2016

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